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"Living in sin" and marriage: A matching model


  • Xinhua Gu

    () (Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. Fax: +1-416-978-6713; e-mail:

  • Padma Rao Sahib

    () (SOM Research School and Population Research Centre, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands)


This paper develops a two sided matching model of premarital cohabitation and marriage in which premarital cohabitation serves as a period of learning. We solve for the optimal policy to be followed by individuals by treating the model as a three stage dynamic programming problem. We find that couples are more discriminating when forming marital unions than when forming cohabiting unions. Cohabitation unions arise among members of the same "class" and there is overlap between the classes formed by marital unions and cohabiting unions. This implies that some cohabiting unions progress to marriage while others do not, a finding borne out by empirical studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Xinhua Gu & Padma Rao Sahib, 2002. ""Living in sin" and marriage: A matching model," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(2), pages 261-282.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:15:y:2002:i:2:p:261-282
    Note: Received: 4 November 1999/Accepted: 4 September 2000

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    Cited by:

    1. Lian, Zhaotong & Gu, Xinhua & Wu, Jinbiao, 2016. "A re-examination of experience service offering and regular service pricing under profit maximization," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 254(3), pages 907-915.
    2. Amy Farmer & Andrew Horowitz, 2015. "Strategic non-marital cohabitation: theory and empirical implications," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 219-237, January.

    More about this item


    Cohabitation · marriage · matching;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure


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